A QAJAR POLYCHROME-PAINTED ENAMELLED COPPER BOX: THE LOVERS OBSERVED
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION
Qajar Iran, 19th century
Of rectangular shape, resting on a flat base, with a hinged lid, the exterior clad in vibrant polychrome-painted enamels following the style of several erotic-themed boxes produced in the Qajar period, the lid featuring a cusped cartouche depicting a moment of intimacy between two young lovers, the man resting on the woman's lap whilst hugging her, the hand of the female lover lowered to the counterpart's waistline, in front of them glass ewers of wine and roasted skewers, Persian symbols of intoxication and burning desire, the pair observed by a puzzled maiden raising her finger to the lips in a sign of bewilderment, and a curious man wearing a tall black Astrakhan fur kaj kolah, lush floral bloom against a golden background to the corners, the back with a tranquil landscape scene, juxtaposed to the amorous tension of the previous scene and clearly inspired by the canon of Western landscape views featuring mosques with minarets instead of churches, further floral decoration on the sides, 6cm x 9.5cm x 3cm.
Lover scenes like the one on our box, especially including other characters acting as witnesses, were a very popular subject during the Qajar period, and they were repeated by several artists. Differently from the stereotypical duo of Qajar beauties and beaus often encountered on enamelled and lacquered artworks, this scene showcases the artist's talent in sharply observing real facts and consequently, reproducing them on the enamelled media without diluting its content. The expressions of the characters are particularly meaningful and intriguing.
For a similar, though more refined, enamelled plaque mounted on a box showing a scene of interrupted lovers, please see Christie's London, 26 October 2017, lot 111.
Sold for £2,375
Includes Buyer's Premium